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Destination guides > North America > USA > West Coast > California > Los Angeles > Local transport

Los Angeles

Local transport

With a metropolitan area spread over five counties (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura), poor public transport and an excellent freeway network, this is one city where you’ll probably want to rent a car – it’s not just the best way to get around, it’s also the only way to truly experience Los Angeles.

Despite 90% of local residents relying on their own car for transport, Los Angeles does have an acceptable public transport system – it is just that the city’s sprawl makes it seem less efficient than it actually is.

LA’s public transport system is comprised of buses, a metro and suburban trains. Union Station in downtown LA is the hub for most public transport services.


The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA; tel 800 266 6883) runs LA’s bus main network with frequent bus services throughout Los Angeles County with almost 200 bus routes.


MTA bus fares range from $1.50 to $2.45 with a $5 day pass and a good value $20 weekly pass.

MTA bus in Los Angeles

MTA bus in Los Angeles


Several other bus operators serve specific parts of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The two other bus companies that most travellers are likely to use are Big Blue Bus and LADOT's DASH buses.


The Big Blue Bus (tel 310 451 5444) serves western LA including Santa Monica, Venice Beach and LAX Airport. Big Blue Buses are cheaper than MTA buses with $1 bus fares for local buses and $2 for express buses.


LADOT run the DASH bus network focusing mostly on densely populated areas such as downtown LA as well as major routes (such as Hollywood-West Hollywood) plus routes not served by MTA buses (like Beachwood Canyon in the Hollywood Hills). At 50c a ride the DASH is a much cheaper alternative to MTA buses. The DASH Hollywood-West Hollywood bus is a handy option if you're staying in Hollywood or West Hollywood and the downtown DASH buses are handy if you’re staying downtown and need to get somewhere like the Staples Center or Union Station.


Other bus networks that you may need to use include Culver City Bus, Long Beach Transit and Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA).


Los Angeles relatively new metro system (MTA; tel 800 266 6883) consists of five lines (two underground lines and three light-rail lines). It is a fast and cheap way to get around the city with trains running through downtown LA to Hollywood, Long Beach and LAX. Fares are just $1.50.

Metro station in Hollywood

Metro station in Hollywood


The Metrolink (tel 800 371 5465) suburban train system is an often-overlooked transport option. It consists of six lines and runs from Union Station in downtown LA to neighbouring counties and is a good way to get to Burbank, Ontario and Orange County airports.

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